It’s All About the Poop
If you keep animals, it always comes down to the poo. How to clean it up, where and how to store it, and how you process or deal with it generates much discussion and content. From the casual chat at the feed store to academic studies, poop is a popular topic. Here on the Bent Pine, we deal with many types of poop. Horses, dogs, chickens, bees and our token feline Malcolm all produce waste that is processed and often scrutinized.
Bees poop? Well, of course they do! Everything does, right? While we may not clean up bee poop or have volumes of it that need processing, it’s something we take note of. What comes out in the form is waste is often a good sign that all is well, or not, within that organism. Bees, in this northern climate, will venture out on warmer days in winter and early spring for a “cleansing flight”. Or for the less fragile a good old “poop flight”. Thousands of brownish dots covering the snow around the hives are easy to spot. But it’s the consistency that concerns us, checking for signs that our bees may have a case of Nosema which is basically bee diarrhea, and which calls for some bee medicine.
Jumping in poop volume from smallest to largest, is our herd of mostly geriatric horses. A horses produces on average 15kg (33lbs) of poop per day. When the horses are out grazing on our 32.5h (80 acre) property, the poop is distributed and returned to the land. In other words, we do nothing. It does, however, tend to build in volume around the barn because the horses return there for water and grain supplements. In winter, once the snow is here to stay the horses rarely venture far from the barn, so despite our best attempts at keeping things under control, the melting snow reveals a rather shitty landscape. March and early April are not the prettiest months where livestock are kept in this neck of the woods!
Rather than picking up this poop after the thaw, we break it up and spread it around the field close to the barn. Put on some tunes, jump in the UTV side by side and start dragging behind us whatever the latest concoction of “shit splitter” we’ve chained to the hitch. We’ve tried many iterations over the years. Big, heavy chain harrows aren’t a good match for our version of field which is more along the lines of woodland hillside than flat field. Today after realizing that our chunk of chainlink has deteriorated to the point of uselessness we added a length of heavy pipe to weigh things down. After a few stops and starts, the contraption held together and piles of poop were broken down and dispersed in a satisfying manner. The feeling of accomplishment when looking over your shoulder at your efforts is perhaps a bit hard for a lot of people to grasp, but trust me – it’s a thing.
Our dogs, one Maremma, one Maremma/Akbash/kangal cross livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) and quick-draw Aussie Shepherd poop in the woods. Dog poop found close to the house is always from visiting dogs who haven’t the same scale at home to foster similar habits. For this reason, it’s not a routine thing for us to pick up dog poop like urban and suburban dog owners do. However, as with the bees, it can be interesting to see what’s coming out the business end of our country dogs. Deer fur in a recently deposited pile usually explains why they weren’t as interested in their daily kibble as usual.
Then there’s the cat, Malcolm. He’s one hell of a jerk. Whether hunting exposed ankles or small rodents, his taste for blood is unequalled. I’ve had several cats in my life, all of whom have used a litter box without problem. While Malcom doesn’t have a problem using the box tucked away in the basement, he prefers pooping outside. Even in the snow. Non-cat people might not blink at this, but cat people usually get stuck pondering and picturing this. Cats usually go to great lengths at avoiding all forms of moisture. Cold moisture in the form of snow is typically even more avoided. But not Malcolm! The spring thaw reveals a level of cleaning on our sun deck that we hadn’t anticipated. Weird feline.
Clearly, poop is a hot topic around the Bent Pine, and if you’ve managed to stick around until this point, you’ll have a better idea why. Farmers, animal owners and new parents are endlessly obsessed with poop, maybe you are too?